Thursday, October 05, 2006

Justice for Women under Sharia?

If you listen to the talk from some people, the rules in Islam are there to protect women, but when you look at Sharia-based penal codes, you find things like this in Iran (and there are similar rules about what is considered valid evidence in countries like Pakistan and other nations):

Article 74: Adultery, whether punishable by flogging or stoning, may be proven by the testimony of four just men or that of three just men and two just women.

Article 75: If adultery is punishable only by flogging it can be proven by the testimony of two just men and four just women.

Article 76: The testimony of women alone or in conjunction with the testimony of only one just man shall not prove adultery but it shall constitute false accusation which is a punishable act.

That last one is a real kicker, because if you are a woman who has been attacked by a man, and there aren't enough witnesses, then if you bring charges, you in turn will be punished - a clause that seems perfectly designed to let men get away with rape.

Western Resistance has the following information about women in Iran under threat of the death penalty:

  • Parisa Akbari currently resides in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, southern Iran. She was arrested in April 2004, while working as a prostitute. She confessed to the charge of adultery during interrogation. She claimed that had been forced into prostitution by her husband due to the family's poverty. During her trial in June 2004, she retracted her confession. On 21 June 2004, Branch 5 of the Fars province Criminal Court sentenced her to be stoned to death for adultery.

    On 15 November, 2005, the sentence was upheld by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court. Currently her case is being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

  • Iran Eskandari, an Ahwazi Arab from the Bakhtiari clan, was reportedly talking to the son of a neighbor in the courtyard of her house, when her husband attacked her with a knife. She was badly beaten and left bleeding and unconscious on the floor. While she was unconscious, it is alleged that the man killed her husband with his own knife. While police were interrogating her about the killing, Iran Eskandari reportedly confessed to adultery with the son of her neighbor. However she later retracted her confession. A court in the city of Khuzestan sentenced her to five years' imprisonment for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and to execution by stoning for adultery. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2006. Her lawyer has appealed against the sentence. She is detained in Sepidar prison, in Ahwaz city.
  • Khayrieh Valania, an Ahwazi Arab, was reportedly subjected to domestic violence by her husband. She allegedly began an affair with a relative of her husband, who then murdered him. She was sentenced to death by Branch 3 of Behbahan Court, in Khuzestan in southwestern Iran, for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and death by stoning for adultery. Khayrieh Valania has denied any involvement in her husband's murder, but confessed to adultery. The sentence was upheld, and the case has reportedly been sent to the Head of the Judiciary for permission to be implemented. Talking about her fate, Khayrieh Valania said "I am ready to be hanged, but they should not stone me. They could strangle you and you would die, but it is very difficult to have stones hitting you in the head".
  • Soghra Mola'iwas sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder in January 2004 of her husband Abdollah, and to execution by stoning for adultery. During interrogation she said "My husband usually tormented me. Nevertheless, I did not intend to kill him. On the night of the incident.... after Alireza killed my husband, I ran away with him because I was scared to stay at home, thinking that my brothers-in-law would kill me." Alireza was sentenced to death for the murder of Soghra Mola'i's husband, and to 100 lashes for "illicit relations". The sentences are pending examination by the Supreme Court.
  • Fatemeh (surname unknown), was sentenced in May 2005 by Branch 71 of the Tehran Province Criminal Court to retribution (qesas) for being an accomplice to murder, and execution by stoning for having an 'illicit relationship' with a man named Mahmoud. Her husband was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of Mahmoud. The case is currently being examined in the Supreme Court. According to a May 2005 report in the newspaper Etemad, an altercation occurred between Mahmoud, and Fatemeh's husband. Fatemeh confessed to tying a rope around Mahmoud's throat, which resulted in his strangulation. She has claimed that she intended merely to tie his hands and feet after he was unconscious and hand him over to the police.
  • Malek Shamameh Ghorbany (see our link on sidebar) was arrested in June 2005, was sentenced to execution by stoning for adultery by a court in Orumieh in June 2006. She is reportedly held in Orumieh prison. Her brother and husband reportedly murdered a man that they found in her house, and she too was nearly killed after they stabbed her with a knife. Malak Ghorbany's case is being reviewed.

    She said to her lawyer at a recent meeting: "For a while, I was receiving harassing phone calls from a man I did not know. He claimed that his name was Morad, and that he was infatuated with me. I have no idea how he had obtained my phone number or address.

    One day, I was at home when this man called me again from his cell phone. As I was talking to him on the phone, the door bell rang. Still on the phone, I opened the door, and there he was! I tried to close the door, but he placed his leg inside and pushed his way in, despite my desperate struggle to keep him out. He turned off the lights and raped me. My brother came in and witnessed the attack. He contacted my husband, and when "Morad" tried to flee from the house, my husband and brother caught him and stabbed him to death. They also stabbed me, and when I opened my eyes next, I was in a hospital.

    Her husband, Mohammad Daneshar and her brother Abu Bakr Ghorbai were sentenced in the same court which convicted her to adultery to six years' jail each.

  • Kobra Najjar is detained in Tabriz prison in northwestern Iran. She is at imminent risk of execution. She was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of her husband, and execution by stoning for adultery. She was scheduled to be executed after serving her prison sentence, which was finished two years ago. She has reportedly written to the Judicial Commission for Amnesty to ask for her sentence of execution by stoning to be commuted, and is awaiting a reply.

    Kobra Najjar was allegedly forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. In 1995, after a severe beating by her husband, she told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband. The customer allegedly murdered her husband after Kobra Najjar took him to an arranged meeting place. He was sentenced to death, but he was pardoned by the victim's family, to whom he paid diyeh (blood money).

    Most of the information above has been circulated through various outlets, with details coming from Amnesty International. Spipou has sent me links to information on another case.

  • Kobra Rahmanpour, now aged about 25, was arrested on November 5, 2000. She was sentenced to death for the premeditated murder of her mother-in-law in 2000, and her husband, the victim's son, has demanded that the death sentence be carried out.

    Around 10 November, 2003, Kobra Rahmanpour's husband reportedly presented documents establishing him as the legitimate representative of his mother's heirs. He is therefore entitled to request that the death sentence be carried out, as 'retribution in-kind' (qisas-e nafs). According to Iran's Penal Code, the decision to inflict retribution (qisas-e nafs) rests with the heirs of the victims.

    After being confirmed by the Supreme Court, death sentences imposed for murder can only be commuted if the victim's heirs forgo their right to retribution and ask instead for the payment of blood money (diyeh), or if the Head of the Judiciary invokes his power to revoke a finalized verdict if it is flawed, and refer the case to another court. It is reported that Kobra Rahmanpour's lawyer will ask for clemency from the victim's family.

    Kobra allegedly acted in self-defence after her mother-in-law tried to attack her with a kitchen knife. At an unknown date, she was tried by Branch 1608 of Tehran's Criminal Court, where she was sentenced to death. Her lawyer has reportedly complained that the court did not consider, nor conduct any investigation into, her claim that the murder was in self-defence. Her lawyer is believed to have alleged that wounds on Kobra Rahmanpour's right hand had been sustained due to pulling the knife from the hands of her mother-in-law. In January 2003 her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. Kobra Rahmanpour has been held in prison, possibly in Tehran, since her arrest in 2000.

    It is alleged that Kobra Rahmanpour was forced into marriage against her will by her parents, and had been the victim of domestic violence since her marriage.

    A PETITION exists to help save her life.

    A letter from her father Abolfazl Rahmanpour describes the plight of his daughter:

    "...Kobra, my young daughter, was forced to marry a man, 43 years older than herself. Kobra was a good student in her school and her wish was to study in the university but she was forced to forget all of her wishes because of the extreme poverty of the family.

    Kobra had a hard life before marriage and after marriage her life became even worse. The extremeness of problems and sufferings that she had to take in a family that look at her first a servant and then a daughter-in-law, was so much that made a kind girl like her to commit a murder in an accident and while defending herself.

    Kobra spent the best years of her youth in the prison and with the threat of death She has suffered so much and has completely fall. It is so many years that she can feel the execution rope on her neck and her life goes on with sensing death, she shouldn't suffer more tortures. When look at her colorless eyes, fallen teeth, and senseless body I always ask myself what did I do wrong? What shouldn't I have done?....

    Kobra herself has written an open letter, which includes the following:

    My dear father and mother and my disabled brother who are so much worried for me, have always looked for your support. So many times I think with myself - wishing my life would follow a different path. Wishing I could finish my pre university course. Wishing I wouldn't be forced to work and to serve my husband's family. Wishing I wouldn't reach the borders of madness. But I have suffered so much. I am really a victim. And it is this victim who they are going to hang to .death. This is not a destiny that I deserve.

    In these days of scare and horror, I come to you again. I thank all the media papers and people who supported me and said that "Kobra shouldn't be executed". This time, maybe for the last time, I want to ask you to do your last tries for me to not to be executed and to have a chance to be free. In my dreams I always think of freedom and a good life after that.

    I have suffered enough. Help me so this horrible nightmare that has so many times chased me in the sleep and has made me waking up and scream, won't come true. Help me to be away from death. Do whatever you can, there is little time. These days would be gone too and for me, every click of a clock is a sign that death is near. Please help me! I am scared from death and execution. I hate the execution rope and the crane. I want to live. All other ways are closed to me. Nobody is here for me. My only hope lies in people and my fellow humans. I want to hug my father and mother."

    And lest we forget, there is another case, which we described on August 7, 2006.

  • Delara Darabi has been sentenced to death for a second time, with this judgement upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court. She has been found guilty of committing a murder when she was 17 years old. However, there are elements in the Iranian prosecutor's case that do not ring true. She was first charged last year and found guilty in a lower court in Rasht, in northern Iran. The Supreme Court initially upheld the sentence of the Rasht court. However, in January this year, the Supreme Court rejected the death sentence and ordered a retrial.

    Following two trial sessions from January and on 15 June, Delara Darabi was once again sentenced to death, and she is now at imminent risk of execution, even though the offense was committed when she was only 17, and still a minor. As a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran has stated that it will not execute people for offenses committed when under the age of 18. However, since 1990, Iran has executed 18 people for crimes committed as minors.

    The guilt of Delara Darabi is questionable. She did take part in a burglary, with a man, 19-year old Amir Hossein, though she says she was under the influence of sedatives at the time. The two had entered a woman's house, with the intention of burglary, but the woman was killed. Amir Hossein had apparently been the person to kill the woman. Unwisely, Delara Darabi at first confessed to the crime. She retracted the statement later, claiming that Amir Hossein had asked her to take responsibility for the killing, as he was over 18 and would have faced the death penalty. Delara assumed that, being under 18, she would not be executed if found guilty, so she confessed to the killing.

    Another woman facing possible death by hanging for killing a man who tried to rape her in a public park is Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi.

    And on July 28, we related that another woman, a mother of four children, 37-year old Ashraf Kalahri, was in imminent danger of being stoned to death. According to Lily Mazahery and Payvand, on August 13, Ashraf's death sentence was stopped. But whether she will be stoned to death, or sentenced to another capital punishment is not known. At present, her life hangs in limbo.

  • .

  • Something worth watching

    Lots of images here of what is being carried in anti-western protests. Makes one think.

    By Pim's Ghost

    Hattip to Gates of Vienna

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Invitation to a Slaughter

    The UN, in its wisdom, has decided that the displaced people in Darfur, at high threat of being slaughtered by the factions in Sudan that want to be all Arab, and not black, should feel free to do what they want, even though it is clear that what they want is to purge Darfur of its darkness:

    The top UN Peacekeeping official on Wednesday rejected the notion that the United Nations could deploy troops to Sudan's war-wracked Darfur region without a firm political agreement between rebels and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's government. (AP) (source)

    This basically guarantees that there will be no one around to rescue those when the slaughter begins in the refugee camps, and then the world can sit around and wring its collective hands about how some people are just so bad, pretty much like what happened in Rwanda.

    Some background:

    The Darfur conflict or the Darfur genocide is an ongoing armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from local Baggara tribes, and the non-Baggara peoples (mostly land-tilling tribes) of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided arms and assistance and has participated in joint attacks with the group, systematically targeting the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur. The conflict began in February 2003.

    Estimates of deaths in the conflict have ranged from 50,000 (World Health Organization, September 2004) to 450,000 (Dr. Eric Reeves, 28 April 2006). Most NGOs use 400,000, a figure from the Coalition for International Justice. The mass media has described the conflict as both "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide." The U.S. Government has described it as genocide, although the United Nations has declined to do so. (See also: List of declarations of genocide in Darfur)

    After fighting worsened in July and August 2006, on August 31, 2006, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706 which called for a new 20,000 UN peacekeeping force to supplant or supplement the 7,000-troop African Union force. Sudan strongly objected to the resolution and said that it would see the UN forces in the region as foreign invaders. The next day, the Sudanese military launched a major offensive in the region. (See also: New Darfur peacekeeping force)

    Unlike in the Second Sudanese Civil War, which was fought between the primarily Muslim north and Christian and animist south, in Darfur most of the residents are Muslim, as are the Janjaweed (source)

    From ReliefWeb:

    The current situation (October 1st 2006)

    It is now three years since the escalation of the conflict in Darfur into a major humanitarian crisis. Today the situation is as desperate as ever. The sheer scale of the crisis is incredible:

    - 2 million people - nearly one in three people in Darfur - have had to flee their homes and are sheltering in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs)

    - A further 200,000 refugees from Darfur are in camps over the border in neighbouring Chad

    - More than 3 million people - that's half Darfur's entire population - are now reliant on humanitarian aid

    Such a catastrophic humanitarian situation will not improve without an end to the ongoing and brutally violent conflict. In May this year, the government and one of the main rebel groups signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. But far from bringing peace, since then the situation has deteriorated significantly and Darfur has again become more violent and volatile.

    Oxfam is working to provide people in Darfur with clean water and sanitation systems, and to promote good hygiene practice in the overcrowded camps. Our programmes within Darfur itself currently reach 415,000 people, with a further 40,000 beneficiaries in refugee camps across the border in Chad.

    Getting worse

    Throughout 2006, the situation in Darfur has been deteriorating further with every passing week. Civilians continue to face daily threats of violence and there are frequent displacements of entire communities. Humanitarian workers are finding it increasingly dangerous to carry out vital work. The peace deal signed earlier this year included just two of the parties to the conflict. Since then, the rebel movements have splintered into numerous different armed groups and Darfur has become increasingly fractured and lawless. Major clashes have occurred between those who have signed the agreement and those who have not. As always, civilians have been caught in the middle.

    Even the people who have fled to the camps are still not safe. Venturing just a short way outside to collect essential firewood or go to the market risks harassment, sexual assault or death. The people of Darfur urgently need protection from violence. There is a 7,000-strong African Union force deployed to monitor the region, but it is under-funded and short of both the resources and troops it needs to cover such a vast area that is the size of France. It needs much more support from the international community and a clearer and more proactive mandate if it is to make the region safe and secure for civilians.

    Aid cannot get through

    The increasing violence throughout Darfur is restricting the ability of Oxfam and other humanitarian organisations to do our work, and hundreds of thousands of people are going without desperately needed assistance as a result. Roads are frequently too dangerous to travel on; aid vehicles are increasingly being hijacked or attacked, and staff placed in growing danger. 12 humanitarian workers were killed in Darfur between July and September. In July, Oxfam was forced to close two of our North Darfur offices because of regular carjackings and the death of one of our staff

    The UN estimates that four out of ten people in Darfur who need assistance are not receiving it because they cannot be reached. Large parts of rural Darfur are completely inaccessible for aid agencies. Many of Oxfam's programmes are now reached by helicopter because roads are too insecure, but helicopters only go the larger towns. In villages and rural areas, where there are no helicopter services, we are often simply unable to get there.

    People want to return home

    Many of the people in the IDP and refugee camps have now been there for nearly three years. They want nothing more than to be able to go back to the homes, villages and fields where they and their families have lived for generations. But they are effectively trapped. The ongoing insecurity means that safely returning home is impossible. Humanitarian organisations such as Oxfam are working to make life in the camps as bearable as possible, but greater protection and security is needed throughout the region.

    Life in the camps

    Most people arrived in the camps with virtually nothing. Some people were able to bring animals or a few pots or blankets (if they were not killed or stolen in attacks), but many came with just the clothes they were wearing. Even for those lucky enough to bring animals such as donkeys and cows it is difficult to find food with which to feed them, and taking them out to graze puts the owners at serious risk of attack.

    In most camps, the makeshift huts in which many of the families shelter are made of little more than sticks and plastic sheeting. Some camps, such as Abu Shouk on the outskirts of El Fasher, have been running for three years and have taken on an air of permanence, with stone buildings replacing the tents. Others are newer and continue to grow, such as Gereida in South Darfur, which has tripled in size since the start of 2006. Gereida is now home to 130,000 people and many of the camps are the size of cities, with tens of thousands packed tightly together with only the most basic facilities. Such overcrowded conditions are a breeding ground for diseases. The enormous humanitarian response to the crisis has brought most levels of disease in the camps to manageable levels - although this progress now risks being reversed as insecurity prevents us accessing many people.

    The main feeling in many of the camps is one of helplessness and frustration - people are trapped here, unable to return home, with limited access to education or any kind of economic activity. The majority of people in the camps are women and children, and many of the young children have now spent a large part of their lives living there. (source)

    Rape is rampant, and the only thing standing between the people in threat is a 7,000 man group of African Union troops who are too few to do the job, and running out of funds. When they go, there will be absolutely no one to stand between the women and childen in threat, and the militias and rebels whol will do them in.

    And for the most part, it is Muslim on Muslim crime, too...the main difference is the attackers are ethnically Arab and the victims are not.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Another Fine Example of Women in Islamic Society

    For some reason, Islamic men in the Salafi POV talk a lot about the restriction of women as a way to protect women, but in reality it often seems that it is a way for men to separate themselves from women in a strange attempt to create a world they can pretend is all masculine, except for the barest areas where they need women (sexual, caretaking, childrearing). Outside of that, women should not impinge upon male comfort zones.

    A good case in point of that is the recent talk about restricting women from men during the haj, in a ritual that was always open to women's participation. It was rationalized as putting them in a location where they could have a better and safer view, but it really was a way to avoid contact.

    Here is another example:

    In the House of Artists in Jeddah, artists exhibit their paintings and hold exhibitions. There has now been a call to remove women artists and their works from the House of Artists to other premises. There is a reason for this and it is not difficult to find it — there were complaints that women artists were standing beside their work and explaining it to visitors. That, we are told as we are told, is against our traditions.

    The matter was brought up by the head of the Fine Art Department in the Jeddah Culture and Art Society. The esteemed “head” told a local paper that the founding members of the society were requesting that only male members should be allowed to participate in activities in the House of Artists. He added: “We have to note that we are in a Muslim country where segregation of the sexes is the norm. Also 70 percent of the activities and functions of the house are dedicated to male artists and only 30 percent to women. The original purpose for opening the house was to serve male artists.”

    Even in the world of art, men want women to step aside! What does this say about us and the so-called intellectuals in our country? I am simply lost for words. So male artists are not happy with having women around. What is to be done? The answer is to do it the Saudi way and kick the women out. They are uncomfortable that a woman artist stands before her work and explains it to people who came to see it and are happy to meet the artist. This, however, is considered offensive. By whom, we need not say. Some of the women artists interviewed were, needless to say, furious at the insinuations and innuendoes of indecency.

    In the Kingdom, there are places which allow men and women to work together — and these have been successful. Some of the places are in hospitals and in television and radio. In the latest move by the government, women are to hold jobs in the Foreign Ministry and also as diplomats. Are these women who have been appointed to their respective jobs by the government, and who have official blessing, violating the traditions of our country?

    One expects artists to be an example of collaboration, especially since their work should free their minds of prejudice, but I have forgotten that our society does not believe in cooperation; it usually wants women to be put into specified areas where they are not in direct contact with other people. Can’t we just for one minute treat each other with respect and good will?

    Yes, we are a conservative society and yes, some of us like to maintain family privacy and in some circles, people opt for the women only/men only policy. But there are also other areas in our society that allow the mingling of sexes, so what do we do? Obviously some of us do not understand that and that is why some people constantly complain of the presence of women. Maybe the solution is to create cities for women only or, as one friend suggested, “Build underground cities for women.”

    With such people as the head of the Fine Art Department, who asked for women to be excluded, I think we might find ourselves one day contemplating the idea of moving women outside the cities and maybe allowing families visiting times. (source)

    Western feminists (who sometimes seem to be trying to create the opposite, a world where they don't have to have contact with men in meaningful ways) need to pay attention, and take off any cultural blinders the multicultural pov is giving them. In Europe, Sweden has a feminist party that is truly radically down on men, and also Islamic communities where honor killing in the name of purity (but which is also highly driven, I suspect, by a cultural misogyny that wants not to have to deal with the impact women have on men's lives). The Feminist party is not quoted in the press much about how awful honor killings are, as far as I have seen, but are quoted about how bestial Swedish men are, when they have the most egalitarian society on earth on the law books. As long as you don't live in an Islamic community where Sharia functions as the real law.

    I don't understand this double standard. How can they ignore their sisters like that?

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Preventive Surrender

    I saw this term in an editorial by Henryk M. Broder. It describes a reaction many people take in the face of threat. We saw it in Europe in the lead up to WWII, and we see it many places now in the face of aggressive militant Islamic protest.

    He notes:

    If we didn't already know it by the time of the recent scandal surrounding cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Dutch newspaper, that event confirmed to us that Muslims are especially sensitive when it comes to their prophet. We learned that their anger threshold is very low and that it's best not to overstep it. We also learned that they interpret the suggestion that they incline towards violence as a form of defamation -- one they like to respond to by burning flags and effigies, and by chanting "Kill Those Who Insult Islam!"

    And how have we responded to this attack on Western sensibilities? In London, they are setting up teams to inform Islamic leaders when it's time to do a police raid. A political leader in the Netherlands says if enough people vote for it, there's nothing wrong with estabilishing Sharia law there. And everywhere, people are walking on eggs and making allowances lest they do something to rouse the ire of those who would protest in the name of their faith, even if it means curtailing freedom of speech guaranteed by local law.

    Broder goes on to note:

    During this year's Carnival festivities -- a time when, traditionally, no taboo is respected as long as overstepping it raises a laugh - Cologne's famed carnival societies decided to take no risks and do without jokes about Islam and Muslims. And so the festivities remained untainted by violence.

    It was no great loss for the freedom of opinion, but it was another step in the direction of preventive surrender. When it comes to cultural events -- as opposed to politics -- fear is a potent weapon. At this point, no specific threat of violence seems even to have been needed. One "risk analysis" was enough, and the citation of concrete facts wasn't necessary either. Fear takes care of the rest.

    The case of the Deutsche Oper is spectacular. When something like this happens in some small town, no one gets upset, because it happens there every day. Cabaret artist Hans Scheibner writes regular features for the daily Schweriner Zeitung. The paper is owned by the Flensburg-based media group sh:z, which publishes 14 dailies in Germany's Schleswig-Holstein region. When the Muhammad caricatures published by various Western newspapers caused such a stir this spring, Scheibner wrote a feature that began: "No, really, my dear Muslims, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but our God here in the Christian West is much stronger than yours..." That was more than the Schweriner Zeitung thought its readers could take. The feature was never published.

    When the Pope visited his hometown in Bavaria, Scheibner wrote a feature that was just as harmless. "In Bavaria, the Bavarians have rendered homage to their very own guru, who's always walking around in those funny clothes and with a smoking lantern in his hand." This feature wasn't published either: The editors decided it constituted an "insult to religious sentiment" before even a single Catholic had a chance to complain.

    What's next? Hamburg Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, a liberal Catholic, isn't the only one who believes religious feelings shouldn't be hurt. If this attitude prevails, drama, art and literature will have a hard time in the future. Voltaire, Spinoza and Heine will be banned from the libraries. Even a drama as harmless as Lessing's "Nathan the Wise" could cause outrage. The play features a dialogue between a Christian, a Jewish and a Muslim character. But it doesn't present them as absolute equals. (source)

    This preventative surrender, which is how people who don't want conflict deal with bullies, mafia types demanding protection money, tyrants, and all the other people who would compromise people's freedom, is a dangerous thing, because it will strip people of things, step by step, bit by bit, until they wake up one day and find themselves in a place they really didn't want to be.

    One does not retain freedom by letting the freedoms one has fall through the fingers because it's just easier that way. It takes work and effort and the belief that it is worthwhile. I am reminded of the easy way the Nazis controlled the people in the Warsaw Ghetto, who let themselves be shipped off to the death camps with little struggle. By the time of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, it was too late, and although they were able to cause the Nazis great difficulty in shutting the ghetto down, the fact was they had lost when they gave in to the idea of surrender years before.

    It is the small steps at the beginning where the attack on freedom is easiest to stop. Later, it may indeed be costly, or even impossible to even begin.


    The Cost of Being Christian in an Islamic Dominated Country

    Another example:

    Muslim mob stabs Christian on Indonesia's Sulawesi as tensions rise

    Muslims dragged a Christian man from a bus on Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Sunday and then stabbed him, as religious tensions in the region continued to escalate, a witness and a nurse said.

    The attackers fled soon after police arrived at the scene in downtown Poso in central Sulawesi, said a witness named Arman. (source)

    Comparing Differences

    Ed Koch noted something worth thinking about, in the reaction to Chavez' behavior at the UN:

    No one stood up and told Chavez that he was out of order and demanded that he stop or sit down. They should have told him he was a disgrace to the U.N. Instead they are reported to have applauded this monster and laughed with him, instead of at him. The Times reported: "So while there was official outrage over Mr. Chavez calling Mr. Bush 'the devil,' there was also a lot of applause and giggling, from dignitaries including the president of the General Assembly herself, Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who was caught chuckling from her seat on the dais behind Mr. Chavez."

    Where was the official outrage, and why was Chavez not rebuked while he held the platform? Many of the countries whose delegates were amused by his vitriol receive their sustenance from the U.S. We feed their people and provide much of their medical care. Many expect the U.S. to protect them from attacks from other countries, and some of them are even formal allies. Yet none of them walked out to show solidarity with us. The two nations not in the chamber when Chavez took the dais were the U.S. and Israel. We should forever remember the craven behavior of those who stayed and cheered.

    Imagine if the United Nations meeting had taken place in Caracas, Venezuela, and President Bush in his address had viciously attacked President Chavez. What do you think would have happened? There would have been riots in the streets and Americans in Venezuela might have been assaulted and possibly murdered.

    What was the reaction in the U.S. to Chavez's speech? While I am certain that most Americans were affronted, others invited Chavez to the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Harlem. He was applauded when he referred to George W. Bush as an "alcoholic," a "tyrant," and a "sick man." To his credit the district congressman Charlie Rangel denounced those who applauded Chavez and his attacks on the United States. Source

    There are groups in the US that see nothing untoward with having enemies of their country come and talk with them, evidently under the belief that the enemies of the country are the enemies of the US administration, and not enemies of the US. That is a very short-sighted viewpoint, because these people are not an enemy of George Bush, but an enemy of what the US stands for - its freedom, its way of life, and its success. When the adminstration changes, these people will still be the enemies of the US. In fact, our way of life, and often the way of life of the very people who invite them, like the group who invited the Iranian president to speak, are totally anathema to the people they are dealing with. The majority of American feminists, for example, if they tried to live that way in Iran, would find themselves candidates for stoning.

    One of the ironies of our era.